29 October 2020 518 Views

TBT: Why Bohemian Rhapsody still ROCKS.

by James Murphy

..AND WHY IS IMITATORS..DO NOT..

STARDUST had its trailer launch this week. I know it is just a trailer but, wow that looks AWFUL! Makes Bowie look callow rather than genuinely experimental. DOES NOT USE BOWIE MUSIC?! And above all, yet again, tries to mimic Bohemian Rhapsody, the recent and definitive biopic of musical glory and human endeavour.

Last year’s ROCKET MAN had a similar issue, imho. Yes, it used Elton songs and those are great. Yes, Taron Egerton is a star and a consummate actor. But no sense of likeable reflection on the human condition.

That philosophical charm cannot be mirrored or copied. It was innate to Freddie Mercury and hence, his story. Rami Malek is also a genius in his counterpart artform of acting. So there was lightening in a bottle.

I know that people have issues with the film. The timeline is all over the shop. Freddie’s story is sanitised in a manner that drove Sacha Baron Cohen away from the project.

But a biopic is not a documentary or rockumentary. It is an act of creative fiction that happens to convey fact and truth.

Bohemian Rhapsody is just that: a meditation on art, morality, time, love and a simulation of the work of one of history’s greatest performance artists.

Rami captures the gestures of Freddie, both onscreen and off. THAT raising of an arm / propulsion of the microphone. The awkward smile. The boyish innocence, compromised briefly in an hedonistic underworld and then rescued, sadly, just as he faces death. Reversal and recognition.

But the true standout scene? The kind of magic? The part that won Rami an Oscar over Christian Bale (impressive that year in Vice)? It’s an intimate, moving, beautiful portrait of unrequited, or rather lost, love, in the cocoon of naivete that both inspires and constricts an artist.

Freddie phones his ex one night. She is getting ready for a party. Great work from Lucy Boynton here, too, as Mary. The lady is trying to subtly convey that time has indeed, started to move along.

Remaining friends is a matter of occasional calls/cards. One cannot be present and keep a past fixture within current life. Her patience is still there, an almost maternal instinct to protect Freddie.

But he has to let her go as a new date is waiting for his lost love. Freddie accepts this, staring into the darkness, and so begins an Orpheus like descent to an hedonistic underworld. Love still rescues him, though and Mary is there as Freddie performs, to the world at Live Aid.

Is that all a tad neat, tidy and contrived? Sure! But it’s got teeth to it. It HURTS. There is an eternal, human truth to the piece, which radiates throughout the film and its legacy. The film will live, forever.

And the show must go on..etc..



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